The African Queen
One of Humphrey Bogart’s most memorable roles was in Key Largo, so it shouldn’t be too much of a surprise that the island town has a bit of Bogie memorabilia; oddly, the most notable piece isn’t from Key Largo or any other Bogart-Bacall film but from The African Queen, in which Bogart starred as a cranky riverboat captain ferrying Katharine Hepburn away from the Germans invading her missionary home.
The actual African Queen (99701 Overseas Hwy., 305/451-4655) boat is anchored behind the Key Largo Holiday Inn.
Those looking for an authentic bit of nostalgia from the film Key Largo should head for the bar at the Caribbean Club (mile marker 104, U.S. Hwy. 1, 305/451-4466), in which some scenes in the movie were set; there’s a lot of movie memorabilia to be found, but the prime attraction is the locals-only vibe at the bar. Also, sticklers for accuracy will note that most of the movie was actually shot on studio back lots rather than on the island.
Dolphins Plus (31 Corrine Pl., 305/441-1993) offers swim-with-the-dolphins experiences under the purview of a facility dedicated to conservation and research. There are both structured and “natural” interactive experiences; the former is best for those who may be a bit nervous in the water with a dolphin, as contact is limited and the routines are closely guided by a trainer in the water with you.
The looser “natural” experiences don’t guarantee dolphin contact, but snorkelers are allowed to freely roam the dolphin swimming area, imitating the marine mammals in the hopes of some one-on-one interaction. The natural experience less expensive ($125 for half an hour) and more adventurous, but the structured experience ($185) avoids the chance of not getting to touch a dolphin. Other activities involve swimming with sea lions, educational programs about marine biology, and dolphin training.
Florida Keys Wild Bird Center
The Florida Keys Wild Bird Center (93600 Overseas Hwy., Tavernier, 305/852-4486, daylight hours daily, free) is a bayside nature center that’s dedicated to the rehabilitation of injured wild avian creatures; unsurprisingly, there are scores of birds throughout the lush grounds. There’s a nice boardwalk and a coastal area where the birds love to congregate. Most visitors here are school groups, but a stroll through the property is both inspiring and educational.
© Jason Ferguson from Moon Florida, 1st Edition